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May 18, 2024

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The Hollyridge Strings
Best of the Beatles Songbook (Varese Sarabande)

By: Gary "Pig" Gold

As anyone past thirty-five may recall, when JPG&R first hit these shores it was with a musical and sociological bang the likes of which the King of Pop's publicists daren't even IMAGINE. Quicker than you could tune in Ed Sullivan, it seemed the entire western world was wanting in on the act(ion): eventually, even hep elder swingers and with-it parents were feigning their fair share of Beatledom by lusting not toward those noisy "Hard Day's Night" and "Something New" records, but nice, civilized (read: string-driven) morsels from Lennon/McCartney's canon.

The Fabs' very employers at Capitol Records were quick to seize this long-haired elevator market by squeezing out no less than five (!) "Beatles Songbook" albums between '64 and '68, the, uhh, best of which those visionaries at Var?se Vintage have now amassed onto one shining disc.

Sure, you're thinking: more faux-bachelor pad early-lounge seepage ? la Esquivel et al, but NO, not quite. Though the Hollyridge renditions of each early Mersey classic still sound surprisingly gear, in a Carnaby & Vine sorta way, it's the versions of such Lennon nuggets as "Norwegian Wood" and "Strawberry Fields" that stand near Rutle-like in their perverse audio audacity.

Yep, you young fry out there may very well buy up "The Best of the Beatles Songbook" for mere kitsch value alone, and that's fine. But just remember: thousands upon unlucky thousands of your forefathers (well, older brothers then) spent many a Xmas morning sobbing under their trees after unwrapping Hollyridge Strings records rather than "Rubber Soul"s or "Revolver"s. In other words, the moral of this review? The Sixties certainly could be one cold and cruel decade as well.

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